The following is an excerpt from Queen of the Skies (Book One in the Steam & Mettle Christian steampunk series). Keep in mind that any of this may change between now and when the book is published, but it will give you a sneak peek.
This series takes place on an alternate Earth in the present day.
This scene shows Marjorie Clarke, the African-American aunt of the main character, Merritt Baxter (who is biracial). Marjorie raised Merritt from infancy after Merritt was abandoned by her mother.
Marjorie is in New Amsterdam City (the original name of New York City) for a business conference and decides to check on her family.
----- Excerpt begins -----
She walked down the hall to a window facing the rest of the New Amsterdam cityscape. It was early evening, and the stars were starting to appear far above the lights of the skyscrapers. She was badly craving a cigarette, but that would have to wait. She took her mobile phone from her purse and dialed a familiar number.
“Henry!” she said, her voice immediately brightening. “I’m so glad you picked up. I miss you terribly!”
“You coming home tonight?” he asked in his grumbly voice. But she knew it was his way of saying he missed her, too.
“Sorry. But my flight is in the early morning,” she replied. “Maybe we can have lunch?”
“Mm-hmm,” he said. “Pick you up in front of the hotel at noon.”
She grinned. “Noon it is! I love you.”
His “love you, too” was so low, it was almost inaudible. Still, she heard it and it made her giddy inside, as it always did. Henry Clarke wasn’t the most expressive man, but he had long ago stolen her heart. And she had stolen his. That love had carried her through this wretched conference, and it would see her home again.
She dialed another number, but it went to voicemail. She waited for the beep.
“Lavinia, I’ll be back tomorrow from the conference,” she began. “Call me back, I want to hear about your day. Love you, babygirl.” Being forced to leave a message made Marjorie realize just how much she missed her only child. Lavinia was a busy young woman and had a life of her own now. It almost made Marjorie choke up, so she spoke quickly. “Bye!”
She took the elevator downstairs to the first floor.
But she stopped in the ladies’ room near the lobby to freshen up. She was pleased with her makeup and clothing choice, a simple but stunning Garibaldi jacket, blouse, and skirt combo. It complimented her trim figure. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she took a comb to her shoulder-length straightened black hair. She frowned at the increasing number of silver strands she saw.
Time for some dye, Marjorie.
She also wasn’t pleased with the stress lines on her forehead or the hardening lines descending from her nose towards her mouth.
I’m only forty-eight, she thought. Maybe I need a vacation more than I thought!
Another thought drew her attention.
Should I call Merritt?
She straightened her midnight blue jacket and took a final appraisal of herself before going outside to the sidewalk facing the parking lot. Her thoughts slowed and became more manageable. The stress of the day melted away in the cool night air and she felt much better. She took her time finishing her smoke. Then she retrieved her phone from her purse once more and dialed.
“Hello?” Merritt answered.
Merritt sounded distracted.
“Is everything okay at home?” Marjorie asked.
“Oh. Yeah, it’s okay,” Merritt replied. “I’m watching Fantastic Adventures.”
Marjorie wasn’t familiar with that television show. But if it was on during prime time, it was probably okay, she reasoned.
“Did you eat supper?” Marjorie asked.
“What did you eat?”
“Blaze bought me a pizza.”
“Is Blaze there?”
“No, I saw him this afternoon. He left a while ago.”
That was nice of him, Marjorie thought.
“I’ll be home tomorrow,” she told Merritt.
“Good night, Merritt. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Good night, Marjorie.”
Marjorie looked at her phone screen for a moment. She pulled up recent pictures of her husband and daughter. Browsing through her digital photo gallery, she searched for a picture of Merritt. The only one she found was from Merritt’s high school graduation four years ago. She sighed and peered up into the night sky for several long seconds. Then she put the phone back in her purse and went back inside the hotel.
---- Excerpt ends ----
This is the first video in a new series called Due East Re-View. Due East was an award-winning Christian slice-of-life webcomic co-written by me and my wife, Angel Steadham with art by me. It ran from 2007 until 2009 on The Duck Webcomics and is now available in its entirety for free on Comic Fury.
My interview with Parker J. Cole on the Write Stuff Radio podcast aired this Tuesday, August 16, 2022. We discussed The Former Things and how it is a non-formulaic Christian Romance novel. You can listen to it on the embedded player below. Check it out! Feedback welcome.
We live in a time of great division. Political division, wars and rumors of wars, and spiritual division. These things are symptomatic of the world we live in.
Matthew 12: 25-28 (King James Version = KJV) reads:
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
It is one of the oldest battle tactics: divide and conquer.
However, just because that tactic is being used does not mean it has to succeed. God has offered us a way to endure and even thrive, spiritually, in the midst of the worst of times on Earth. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live on the Earth as fully man and fully God, and to be a sacrifice for all of our sins. Then when Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Ghost to be the Comforter in His physical absence.
God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are One. They are called the Godhead.
Sin — which is disobedience to God and the standards He set for humankind — exists on the Earth because of the original disobedience of Adam and Eve. Their children and everyone born since then have a sinful nature. That is why children are disobedient. They don’t have to be taught that, it is already in them. People have free will and can decide to do good things or bad things.
So, it is not surprising that people make bad choices that hurt themselves and other people. This has been happening throughout history. It is why wars happen and has led to many tragedies. The Bible shows this very clearly. Many times, God was upset and even angry with His chosen people, the Jews, and rebuked them through His prophets and God’s own actions.
After all that God had done for them, showing them His miraculous and unparalleled power as well as His love and mercy, they were still a disobedient people. God pleaded with them to abandon their disobedience, especially the worshiping of false gods, which God likened to adultery and prostitution. And yet, God still showed mercy.
Jeremiah 3: 6-15 (KJV) reads:
The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Ultimately, God sent His Son because only Jesus was worthy to become the sacrifice for all sin, taking everyone’s place on the cross to be crucified. As the only perfect being who lived as a human while also being the personification of God Himself, Jesus lived without any sin. Then Jesus was resurrected from the dead by God and given the highest honor.
Philippians 2: 5-11 (KJV) reads:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christianity was something new that God created, offering His salvation not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles (everyone who wasn’t a Jew). This had been foretold by His prophets long before Jesus walked on the Earth.
Isaiah 55: 5-11 (KJV) reads:
Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Over time, divisions have come even between Christians. Some of this is normal since we are all individuals with differing viewpoints and experiences. But we have the Bible, which should unify Christians.
Unfortunately, too many people are not being taught the Bible or studying it actively. Many are not having an active prayer life. And while many Christians may have good intentions, if they are not regularly leaning and depending on Jesus, they can be led by their emotions instead of the Holy Spirit. This is spiritually dangerous since it leaves the Christian vulnerable to sinful longings and behavior.
2 Timothy 4: 3-4 (KJV) states “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
And there are plenty of false teachers, preachers, and so-called prophets trying to appeal to people’s political and personal interests. Many of those preachers and teachers also claim that the Bible wasn’t meant to be interpreted literally or that the problems the Bible addressed were relevant in the past and don’t apply to present times.
But God has not changed. What God taught and commanded through his prophets, pastors, and teachers still applies and can be used today. Anyone who says otherwise is actually denying God and His Word, usually offering justifications for what God calls sin.
2 Peter 2: 1-9 (KJV) reads:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
(For that righteousness man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
In the end, we each are accountable to ourselves and to God, whether we call ourselves Christians, agnostics, atheists or adherents to other faiths or belief systems. If we do call ourselves Christians, then we are claiming to follow Jesus Christ. So, we should put Christ first in our lives, worship Him with all our heart, and follow Jesus’s examples.
We are not perfect like Jesus. We have flaws and shortcomings, things we need to grow in understanding and mature about. But through prayer, studying God’s Word (the Bible), attending church, and listening to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we can resist sin, live a fulfilling life, and be a blessing to others by representing Christ.
John 14: 23-29 (KJV) reads:
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Lastly, Matthew 28: 18-20 (KJV) reads:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Lights in a Dark Sky (A Republic Chronicles Anthology) has its official release today! It is available as a free ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. It is also available in print on Amazon for $8.80 plus tax and shipping (free shipping with Amazon Prime). I made a trailer for it also.
- Amazon buy link for print version
- Amazon link for free ebook
- Barnes & Noble (ebook)
- Kobo (ebook)
This is a new Series trailer for Steam & Mettle, the Christian steampunk trilogy I’m currently working on (to be published by Ambassador International). Consider this an introduction to the series. This is the Earth you’ll be visiting. Feedback welcome!
If you want to get to know an author, read their books. An author shares what’s important to them in what they write about. It doesn’t have to be a specific cause, it can just be their views on life or family.
An author’s writing reveals their likes, dislikes, hopes, and fears. What they don’t write about or include can be just as illuminating. Most authors immerse themselves in their writing, worlds they want to explore, share, or develop. And the kinds of environments or worlds an author creates can be a reflection of their inner world or what they idealize.
This is also where it can take a disturbing turn. Many authors are very emotional, at least when they project their feelings through their stories. But if they have traumas or mental health issues, those can be manifested through their writings as well. Authors often find therapeutic release in their writings. And while that feels satisfying or at least good to the author, it can make for troubling reading for their audience.
Authors especially like to plant “Easter eggs” in their stories. These can be in-jokes, running gags, local or pop culture references, or references to friends and relatives. These also reflect what is important or amusing to the author, granting a different kind of view of who they are.
So, if you want to learn more about your favorite authors or any author in particular, read their books, short stories, and novellas. You’ll pick up on consistent themes, ideas, and details they include in the writings. It might help you enjoy their stories more.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
The Allen Steadham Newsletter!
Signup to get the latest news and updates.
Get a FREE Sci-Fi short story just for subscribing below!
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.